Supporters of scheme dismiss concerns it has made roads less safe
Congestion on King Street, Hammersmith. Picture: Liam Downer-Sanderson
A petition against the newly implemented cycle lane on King Street has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures not long after being launched.
Supporters of the petition are calling for the bikes-only path along King Street in Hammersmith to be taken out, saying it causes “havoc”.
The route was introduced by Labour-led Hammersmith and Fulham Council as part of its overall plan to create a safe cycling route linking up with the rest of Cycleway 9 in Chiswick which is currently being under construction to allow changes to be made to the original design. The petition to scrap the bi-directional cycleway has been signed by nearly 3,000 people, who claim it is unsafe for cyclists and causes congestion and delays.
The petition was launched by two Conservative candidates – Hugo FitzGerald and Liam Downer-Sanderson – who are planning to contest Ravenscourt Park ward in the May local elections. The ward is currently held by Labour, who won all three seats in 2018, but has been represented by Conservative councillors in the past.
It says, “The cycle lane impedes emergency vehicles, is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, increases congestion and hence pollution, ended the King Street bus lane, and reduces parking space which negatively affects local businesses.”
Locals expressed their fury with petition comments. Michele Weininger said, “These new road measures are ridiculous and dangerous. They have created massive traffic jams in King Street and now the buses get stuck behind slow moving cars! Absolutely crazy!”
Julia Watkins said, “It’s causing more traffic and congestion, especially when buses are at stops. Emergency services are unable to get past.”
The King Street route has been implemented under an Experimental Traffic Order which means that feedback can be given by the public which will determine whether or not it remains in place. The council is committed to the route describing it as ‘semi-permanent’ and has received several million pounds of funding from central government to implement the scheme and changes around the Hammersmith Gyratory.
Mr Downer-Sanderson claims the number of cycling collisions on King Street has doubled since 2020. He said, “It is nigh impossible to retro-fit cycle lanes on to busy main roads without a huge negative impact on everyone.
“Residents clearly agree and councils such as Hammersmith and Fulham Council have got to put their residents’ views ahead of the vociferous extremist cycle lobby. Emergency vehicles are being delayed, creating a risk lives will be needlessly lost.”
Hugo FitzGerald and Liam Downer-Sanderson next to cycle lane. Picture: Elizabeth Gahan
However, there is also a substantial body of local opinion in favour of the new road layout. Leo Murray, a local father and chair of cycling campaign group W6 Safe Cycling Families, said, “The lane is fantastic. It’s packed with parents and children. It’s already well used.”
Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Cycling Group Casey Abaraonye said the majority of people living nearby did not have cars and the route was now safer for cyclists, walkers and disabled residents to get about.
He added, “It’s a massive improvement. King Street is a high street, not a highway. If we look at any high street operating at a decent capacity, the first thing we notice about it is that it isn’t flooded by cars.”
Chiswick resident Ruth Mayorcas, 68, who cycles along the route daily, said she felts safe. “It keeps people [away from] heavy goods lorries, delivery vans and taxis. What’s dangerous is driver behaviour,” she said.
“Unfortunately the roads in London have been so hostile for so long for women, children, and older men who want to use a bike to get around like they do in Europe.”
Councillor Wesley Harcourt, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We have the farcical situation where the Conservative candidates for Ravenscourt claim they can make the ward cleaner and greener and the air quality better by encouraging as many cars as possible into Hammersmith and digging up the safe cycling pathway.
“This is the most puerile political opportunism. It flies in the face of a policy funded and supported by both their own Conservative government and the Mayor’s transport strategy for London.
“Hugo and Liam offer no solutions for safe cycling or tackling the climate emergency. We, on the other hand, are getting on with the hard graft of reducing emissions and encouraging safe cycle routes that meet the interests of all road-users.
“London is too congested and any new scheme to tackle that congestion takes time to bed in. That’s why we will continue to work with TfL on practical solutions whilst always, as ever, consulting local residents and businesses on the future of the cycle path. “Hannah Neary - Local Democracy Reporter
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February 23, 2022